Bramwell Tovey is well known in Canadian music circles as the former Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony (1989–2001), then of the Vancouver Symphony, retiring from that position in 2018. Many conductors come to their profession via careers as pianists and violinists. Tovey came this route as a tuba player. By the age of 22, he was conducting ballet performances with the London Festival Ballet, and in 1978, he became Music Director of the Scottish Ballet. From 1984 to 1988, he was Principal Conductor of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet.
He also served as Music Director of the Luxembourg Symphony from 2002 to 2006, and was a guiding force behind the establishment of Winnipeg’s New Music Festival in 1992. He recently added the title of Artistic Director of the Calgary Opera Company, in addition to his role as Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and Artistic Advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He has conducted the NAC Orchestra on several occasions, going back to 1985.
Tovey long ago gave up the tuba, but is still a pianist of formidable skill, having appeared as soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras. He has accompanied many singers and instrumentalists and has recorded two jazz albums: Love Walked In and All the Things You Are.
Known for his virtuosity and probing musicianship, violinist James Ehnes has performed in over 35 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors.
Born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Ehnes began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. At age 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
James Ehnes has played with the NAC Orchestra many times since making his debut with the ensemble in 1993. He most recently appeared with the Orchestra on Canada Day 2017, and he also appeared in Southam Hall last May, with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first-ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. For his recent recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony, he won this year’s GRAMMY® award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.